Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday, December 11th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Revelation 9; Amos 5-6
Today's scripture focus is Luke 23:34-39

Luke 23:34-39

English Standard Version (ESV)
34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if h is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Accompanying John MacArthur sermons:  The King Crucified: The Comedy at Calvary and the Contrast at Calvary 
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermons:  Jesus' Crucifixion and Death

The Romans, the Jews, the leaders - they're all making a mockery of Jesus as King.  Scorning Him in the most extreme form of blasphemy there could possibly be.  They've rammed a crown of thorns on His head, they've placed a robe over His battered body, they've crucified two criminals to His right and to His left like the two most trusted advisors flanking His throne.  Pilate gets a jab in at the Jews for backing him into a corner by posting Jesus' kingship at the top of the cross.

This is mankind at its worst.  This is sin at its most depraved.  Scorn, mockery, ridicule, abuse, insults - hurled at God in the flesh.  Surely, if there was ever a time for the just and holy wrath of God to be displayed in a blazing act of judgment, this is it!

And it is!

But not on the sinners who deserved it.

Instead, God's wrath was poured out on the One and only person who did not deserve it - Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.

The sinners' mercilessness only makes the contrast of God's mercy even more stark.

"Father, forgive them."

Forgive them!  What a prayer.

MacArthur notes that it is a general prayer...
it is a general prayer for all the world to know that there’s no sin against the Son of God that is so severe it cannot be forgiven if one will repent. That’s the message. If there is forgiveness for these people, there is forgiveness for anyone.

And it's a specific prayer....
on another level, this is a very specific prayer that was immediately answered among the crowd, among the soldiers, among the thieves and even among the priests. The great irony of Calvary is that while all of this scorn was being heaped on Christ, He was bearing the curse of God far worse than anything they could put on Him. You think it’s bad to be cursed by men, He was being cursed by God. But in taking both the curses from men and the curse from God, He provided the very atonement which makes the forgiveness He prayed for possible.

Were they all forgiven?  No.  But the offer of forgiveness was extended to everyone - no matter how great their sin.  And some from every category responded in repentance and belief, as they put their faith in the One who endured the curses of men and the curse of God to provide forgiveness to undeserving sinners such as us.

He prayed for us, too, that day.  We were the reason He prayed, and we were the reason He responded with such extravagant grace.

What a merciful Saviour!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 23:39-43
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Revelation 10, Amos 7-9

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